This year's Big Apple motorfest is shaping up as The One Where the New SUVs and Sedans Stood Out.

Among the newcomers in a crowd of around 40 sport utility vehicles is Nissan's second generation 2005 Xterra assembled in Smyrna, Tennessee, with engines from nearby Decherd.

The model is still built on a truck chassis - Nissan says this adds to the model's off-road ability, and credibility - but it's now a version of the so-called "F-Alpha" platform developed for the recently launched Titan full-size pickup and Armada SUV spin-off.

The four-litre version of Nissan's VQ-series V6 engine is also new to the Xterra line and comes with either a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearboxes.

Like the previous generation, the new Xterra is offered in 4WD or 2WD configurations. The part-time 4WD system includes 2WD/AUTO/4H/4LO modes and electronically controlled transfer case. A so-called Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system is optional.

The 2005 model wheelbase is two inches longer for a claimed smoother ride and greater interior room, but overall length is only two-tenths of an inch longer due to reduced front overhang. Width is up 2.5 inches and height has risen 1.9 inches.

Inside, front leg room has been increased 0.9 inch and front head room is up 0.7 inch. But the real gain is in the second row, where leg room has increased 3.6 inches and head room has grown by 2.3 inches.

Interior flexibility has been enhanced. The 60/40 split folding stadium-style rear seat is joined by an optional fold-down front passenger seat, handy for carrying long recreational gear. The centre console is bigger and the glove compartment is now double decked and there is additional instrument panel storage.

The cargo area has easy -clean flooring and 10 cargo hooks - six on the floor/sides and four on the ceiling and sides (floor hooks can carry up to 110 pounds). A new adjustable channel system in the floor makes it easier to secure items such as bike racks.

Audio systems include a 300-watt Rockford Fosgate system with nine speakers, steering wheel controls, MP3 capability and satellite radio.

Safety features include dual-stage front air bags with seat belt sensors and a front occupant classification sensor, three-point front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, three-point rear seat belts for all rear seat occupants and the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat anchor system.

Front-seat side-impact air bags and roof-mounted supplemental curtain air bags are optional.